The joy of Spring gives people a sign of life, new beginning, a chance to start over, become better. It is this wish I hope for Miguel Cabrera, Austin Kearns and Coco Crisp. In my previous blog, I gave sincere praise to Mr. Crisp. It was shortly after I posted the entry that Mr. Crisp was the third player caught with a DUI. I just hope that these three gentlemen and others find what Spring is supposed to be about beyond the game of baseball off the field as well as on it. It is easy for me to preach because I don’t drink but I do have my addictions that are known to God alone. I fight them every day once I address them and can only address them with God’s help. Hopefully, these ballplayers can address their problems with God, family and friends to guide them also.
Also in my previous blog, I addressed the pitching and how wonderful it was so far to see pitchers go out there and put their work in rather successfully. Yesterday’s game was different. Masterson was not masterful as he he gave up 2 runs and 2 hits in 2 innings pitched. What troubled me more than this was the amount of walks that he had: 3 of them.
Jordan Bastian, the MLB.com beat reporter for the Tribe mentioned after the game on Twitter that Justin Masterson loved bowling. I responded back to him without a response that Masterson was now throwing more strikes in bowling than in baseball at this time. Well, yesterday’s performance showed it anyway.
On a positive note for the Tribe, the combination of Drew Pomerantz, Joe Smith and Vinnie Pestano pitched the following line 3 innings pitched 1 walk allowed and 5 strikeouts with no runs allowed. This is what I call relief. I really hope this attack of the strike zone can continue. Way to go so far!
DEAL WITH SEATTLE
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Movement off the field of play saw one of my favorite players traded away to Seattle yesterday in Aaron Laffey. Hopefully he will find an opportunity to compete for a starting role with former Indians manager Eric Wedge and former pitching coach Carl Willis reunited with Aaron. I really wish Aaron well and enjoyed meeting him briefly at Progressive Field. I really think he has potential. I just hope he does not do well against us, of course.>
In return, the Indians received Matt Lawson. Two things I thought about, when first reading the news on Twitter, was Matt Lawton and the former local food mart, Lawson’s which was bought out some time ago. However, Matt Lawson is not related to either thought.
In case, one wants to know more, Matt Lawson was one of the prospects who was received by Seattle when they traded Cliff Lee to Texas. His history has him playing 2nd base or shortstop but not at third. Hopefully, he will continue to blossom in the Indians’ farm system.
Later today, the Indians take their squad to face a split-squad Ranger squad in Surprise. I remember in their debut year in Goodyear seeing the Royals there against the Tribe. It is a beautiful park. Hopefully there will be little to no surprises for the Tribe to face when playing Texas. Neftali Feliz is scheduled to get some work against Cleveland as well as Derek Holland a AAA pitcher battling for a spot in the rotation for the defending American League champions. For the Tribe, the Rangers game will be a litmus test and hopefully will be fun to see how we match up with them.
Next game against
I recently gave my opinions for the National League teams and now its time for the American League teams. First up are the teams in the American League West.
The Mariners have a new attitude infused into the management side of things with the debut of Manager Don Wakamatsu. General Manager Jack Zduriencik continued to make moves by dealing J.J. Putz as part of a trade with the Indians and Mets for players like Franklin Gutierrez while also trying to recapture some memories of the glory days with the re-signing of Ken Griffey Jr..They are searching for a closer and will probably have a few closers. With all this indecision and instability, fourth place will still be the result. Still, there will be improvement and excitement returning to the northwestern U.S. soon. At least that is the hope.
The Athletics are like a ticking time bomb. If the young pitching and the new hitters on this team like Jason Giambi and Matt Holliday click together, this will be an interesting team to watch to see if they can contend. They have excellent pitching prospects and a solid bullpen. The question is if they can explode fast into contention or have to trade away Holliday or Giambi by July to rebuild. I think the latter. Third place will be a result.
The Rangers will be a scoring machine. The key to the Rangers success will be the pitching. With Mike Maddux as their new pitching coach and Nolan Ryan as their team president and the best minor league system, they should improve, yet will it good enough to contend for the division. I think their starters are not good enough to do this. I may be wrong but I think third place will be the result because the starters and relievers just do not strike me as star calibur players ready to help this team compete with the Angels. They are close, just not close enough. Second place will be the result.
The Angels lost key free agents in Texieria and K-Rod and replaced K-Rod with Brian Fuentes. I think they may have enough to repeat as division champs. However, it will be a tighter division for them. I think the risk taking in fundamental baseball that Scoscia has makes them a contender and they are deep enough to have spot starters to fill in to start the season. I pick them to be first but I’m nervous about it. it will all be about carrying momentum for them and getting off to a fast start if they want to truly win, otherwise it may be a dogfight to the finish.
It was January. I interviewed for the Gameday security job which I will be performing at Progressive Field starting in April. (I know always the Jake) However, I need to remain professional and proper. Anyway, as I was walking in for my first interview, in came Aaron Laffey. The security guard that signed me in did not know who Laffey was but I did. He was coming to workout in his offseason program.
That got me to thinking. How many really know who this guy is? I observed him in Spring Training and thought Aaron was really rusty. My thoughts were that Aaron’s offseason program was not working out for him. That is why I made up my mind that not Aaron but Zach Jackson would be the starter in an earlier blog entry found here.
Aaron proved to us fans that he is the man for the fifth spot. Fans from casual to serious, will start to remember him now. As with all players, the more successful he is, the better he will be remembered. Let’s hope more outings are like the one he had today.
Never mind the ERA, just work on having more outings like this in the regular season.
I need to apologize to Aaron for being so quick to judge him. The fan in me wants Opening Day to start right away and I never realize how much goes into getting these players into shape. For example, I heard the MLB network saying Team USA pitcher JJ Putz would not throw that pitch that he threw against Canada late in Spring Training. As the WBC moves on, the pitching will improve, the announcer said. Relating this to Aaron, the pitching is improving and hopefully pitches are being thrown that weren’t before.
There was also an article about Jackson wanting to make the Indians roster here. As Indians fans know he is competing with Aaron Laffey, Jeremy Sowers, David Huff, Scott Lewis and Kirk Saarloos. All of these pitchers and others will make this organization stronger should they be called on. I liked the effort they showed today in winning 4-3. Hopefully, the effort will continue in Peoria tomorrow. We shall see.
Keep it up, Aaron! We sure are going to need your efforts to be strong and focused.
It has been an eventful day. At 5:30 a.m. the weather in Cleveland wasn’t exactly like this.
It was actually a day that would be sunny, dry and in the 40’s with no snow on the ground as we left Cleveland. However, one who can go to Arizona surely understands why…not only do we go to see baseball but to leave this behind.
At 7:30 we checked in only to wait for a 9:05 takeoff. However when you know as a fan you are leaving the snow and headed for warmer days, there are smiles all around.
We landed in Phoenix around 11:30. The local game time at Goodyear was 1:05. While several may have been rushing to get over to see “Opening Day” as one passenger said, my family was taking in the AZ landscape and scenery and catching up on 30 plus years with family and friends. I felt foolish taking this picture after church today being Ash Wednesday because there was nothing religious about it.
The reason I bring this up in a baseball blog is what happened afterwards. There is a term for people who come from cold climates to warm climates know to citizens in AZ. I and others like me are known locally as snowbirds. What I consider weird is just being a snowbird.
Now I have a greater appreciation for rivals in the Cactus League. Two such rivals from the AL West, the Athletics and Angels are literally blocks from each other. I went down a main road saw this Arizona skyline on the top of a hill
and this also on the same hill from a different direction
This was all beautiful to a person who has been through a Cleveland winter but where was the baseball?
Literally, I came down from the hill with my family, went to an intersection (Oakland A’s fans rejoice). and saw this at the border of Phoeniz on Priest Rd.
It was the Oakland Athletic training complex and stadium. Cleveland plays there Saturday.
Here is where the rivalry starts. I blinked after our family tour guide took some simple lefts and down the street at what felt like down across the street was this stadium and complex.
In defense of how close these stadiums appear, my relative who has lived there said at one time there used to be a clear dividing line between Tempe and Phoenix. Now it is so built up, it seems like they are within walking distance. Its actually about a 5 minute drive. It reminded me of baseball in New York at one time when the Dodgers, Yankees, and Giants all were in certain boroughs of the same city. Talk about rivalries.
Speaking of the Giants, they visited the Tribe today in Goodyear and beat my Indians 10-7. However a great time was had by players
and fans alike.
Tomorrow I will go to my first ever Cactus League game for the Tribe. After what I saw today, I look forward to seeing everything up close and personal, literally. I will be off a few days going up to the Grand Canyon and visiting with more family and will have even better photos to share. I have been waiting all year for it and am ready for my first live taste of Cactus League play from the Indians. Aaron Laffey is scheduled to start. I look forward to it and will definitely enjoy it.